#025 - GRANDMOTHERS ARE AWESOME
I grew up in, quite literally, a white-bread home. My parents worked hard, made decent money, and did their best to provide for their kids. We went to public school, and were encouraged to work hard. Life was pretty good. We socialized with people who were much like we were. Therein lies the set up. "Much like we were." Not a bad thing, per se, but not a mind expanding thing either.
In the summer, my brother and sister and I, along with a good many of our cousins, would get shipped off to Grandma's house for a week or so. This gave us kids a chance to play together, our grandparents got their yearly fill of children, and the assorted parents got a rest. Win situation, all around.
Grandma had bread. Brown bread. It was awesome. It was the best thing I'd ever tasted. Bread should not taste this good - surely, it was a sin, it was so delicious. I was a picky eater, generally. Not much into new or different foods. Give me what I liked yesterday, and I'd like it today. Don't rock my world too much.
But brown bread rocked my world. I looked forward to it each time we stayed over at Grandma's. We took day trips to Grandma's throughout the year. We didn't always get bread those days - depended on what was for dinner - but the week-long trips? Guaranteed. And, after Grandma's place, who could eat Wonder sponge and enjoy it?
When I got married, at the tender age of 19, to my high school sweetheart (we were in different high schools, and, in fact, different cities, but no matter) I had to go grocery shopping for the first time. My dear Mother was not there to buy the bread for me. I had to go it alone.
The supermarket had brown bread. I was in shock. I thought brown bread came from grandmothers. I really did. At the age of 19, an adult (if barely) I had never seen brown bread for sale. I was, to be blunt, stupid. But I was also thrilled. I bought the bread. (And my new wife thought I was an idiot.)
Of course, it wasn't as good as Grandma's. Not all of Grandma's bread was home made; some was, some was store bought. But it didn't matter, Grandma's was better. But the stuff I bought in the stores was still pretty good. And it made me think of my Grandma.
Every time I pull it out of the cupboard, I think of how much I loved my Grandmother, though I never told her that. She was the kind of a person you call a saint; a loving wife, mother and grandmother. I never heard her say a bad thing about anyone. She was the organist in the church, tremedously devout but never preached it. She never swore or drank, but never held herself to be better than you because of that.
My Dad, who occasionally baked, made "beer bread" once and took it to Grandma's house. The next time we visited, she served us "root beer bread", just to show my father that you didn't need alcoholic beverages. Not for anything. It tasted great, but not the same. Sarsparilla does not taste like malt and hops. We all laughed.
One Christmas, many years ago, I baked bread and gave it away as gifts. My Grandmother never knew it, but it was meant just for her - I gave it to everyone else too so she wasn't singled out.
It's thirty years later, and my Grandmother passed away a few years back. But I am still thankful for brown bread.
My partner won't be home for dinner tonight. I think I'll go home and make a peanut butter and jam sandwich for dinner. With brown bread. And I'll think of Grandma...
27 January 2010